12/22/2014 07:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Thoughts About Community ABC


I've been thinking about community, what glues it together and what splinters it apart. Three years ago this month I broke my wrist, not my dominant hand, thankfully, which I rely on for everything, including my art. In hindsight, the break taught me how to "take a break" from normal routines and reach out to my local community.

I work from home. The artist in me is a natural hermit, finding solace by working alone. My art studio is a creative womb. I barely use the phone. I spend hours absorbed in finishing work deadlines, writing, illustrating, hunting for other work, organizing travel logistics and mountains of paperwork for my workshops, and maintaining a smooth running art office in an age of too much information. What's great about the cyberspace is that it sets up a community for hermits like myself, a place to reach out. I enjoy breaks from my work to peek on Facebook, or to read global news sources, publishing news, commentary, or to learn from astrology experts.

The world is filled with many communities. There's the global community, the collective big circle. Then, there are personal communities. We all need communities and I have written about them before. I belong to a few arts communities. I belong knowing there's the freedom to not belong. Yoga has taught me to love the world but use discrimination.

I've been told that I wear independence as a tiara. Personality cliques or groups with dogmatic rules are not for me. On social networks, cliques are easy to spot and maybe a root to how communities splinter. For example: Team A "like" statuses from other crowing Team A members. Be it a status about an award or even a creamy donut. Team A members are there for each other. But if a Team B member announces an accolade or breaks a wrist, there's silence from Team A. What about Team C? Who counts? Who is dismissed? Humans place other humans (and the arts, books, movies, etc) in pyramids of power hierarchies. I'd rather see community as a circle, a membraned collective, a unity where everyone belongs.

Sadly, there's nothing I can do to the stop the tidal waves from eons of pre-conditioned human behaviors which separate; cravings for battles, drama, and Us vs Them. All I can do is surf and try my best to participate within the collective with vigilance and integrity. Hopefully, a rebellious spirit plus a few sparkles from my tiara will shine positively through my art and books; illuminate a path for young people to be independent yet simultaneously unified with the collective community.

When I broke my wrist my tiara fell off. I was forced to be dependent. Out-of-the-blue-angels flew to my side before and after surgery. Peter Lorenzo, a Dumbo musician, watched me fall. I never knew he was an ex-Marine until he went into action. He got me to Long Island College Hospital by taxi, spent the night sleeping in the freezing emergency room chair, while I took x-rays and had my bones reset. Other friends took time out from major work schedules to be with me during surgery and post-op appointments. Friends from Superfine in Dumbo came to visit my studio with bags of groceries and vats of food to freeze which I lived on post-op.

Other angels were the lovely workers from my local supermarket. I'm usually friendly to everyone at Key Food. I illustrated a picture book titled, Supermarket using the Montague Street store for my art compositions and dedication. But local fame didn't matter, my tiara was off. The cashiers insisted they pack the canvas bag I always bring to pack my own groceries. As months went by and my wrist apparatuses decreased, the workers always asked about my healing process. Now I see a few of them on Facebook where we've learned more about each other's career and and families. We're not just nameless faces separated at a counter.

Members of the Long Island College Hospital community, where I had surgery and occupational therapy to get my broken wrist to function normally again, were most impressive. Without my fall I would never have met them. I was healed with care and respect not parceled out by any Team A, B or C. I was treated equally at LICH because I am a citizen of the larger community. Breaking a wrist was a humbling experience. Hierarchies seem ridiculous now when those who save lives every day and hold the web of our unified community together never crow about it on Facebook.

What's heartbreaking is that three years later, LICH who served several Brooklyn communities, closed in order to to build condominiums. Maybe if Teams A, B and C worked together as one team to develop but not destroy, we might have saved a hospital.